With the U.S. and Israeli delegations absent in boycott, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressed the General Assembly on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur in a rambling, apocalyptic speech in which he declared his confidence that the table already is being set for a "new world order." What Ahmadinejad means by "new world order," however, has nothing to do with the globalist economic and political integration envisioned by President George H. W. Bush.

Known internationally as "Twelvers," radical Shiite Muslims like Ahmadinejad believe the new order will come with the return of their messiah, the Mahdi - the child imam who supposedly went into seclusion at the bottom of a well more than 1,000 years ago.

Indeed, after a long diatribe in which he blamed Western civilization for most of the world's major problems, Ahmadinejad concluded his speech today with an extensive description of his belief that the Mahdi will soon usher the world into a new era of peace and prosperity.

"God has promised us a man of kindness," he said, according to the official transcript, "a man who loves people and loves absolute justice, a man who is a perfect human being and is named Imam al-Mahdi, a man who will come in the company of Jesus Christ and the righteous."

Ahmadinejad said that by "using the inherent potential of all the worthy men and women of all nations" the Mahdi will "lead humanity into achieving its glorious and eternal ideals. The arrival of the ultimate savior will mark a new beginning, a rebirth and a resurrection," the Iranian leader said. "It will be the beginning of peace, lasting security and genuine life. His arrival will be the end of oppression, immorality, poverty, discrimination and the beginning of justice, love and empathy."

What Ahmadinejad neglected to explain is that Shiite Twelvers believe a global apocalypse will mark the Mahdi's return, leading to the annihilation all non-believers, including Christians, Jews and Sunni Muslims. Many who have examined Ahmadinejad's beliefs fear that Iran sees its buildup of nuclear-weapon capabilities and the destruction of Israel as the key apocalyptic event that will hasten the Mahdi's return.

Outside the U.N. General Assembly hall, in numerous press conferences and interviews during his New York visit, Ahmadinejad was explicit about his disdain for Israel and his insistence that it will one day be eliminated.